Imperial Rule Assistance Association models itself on Nazis
The advocates of “reforms” in the nation’s political, economic and social systems and in its diplomatic policy had been smoldering since the early phases of the Showa Era swung fully into action in 1940. Yoriyasu Arima and Akira Kazami, both close aides to Konoe, hoped to create a “Konoe Shinto (New Konoe Party)” while Konoe on June 24 announced “I will resign the post of President of the Privy Council in order to do what I can to establish a new system.” The Army, too, counted on Konoe’s drive to establish a new system. Believing that Germany’s rapid advance stemmed from the one-party rule system of the Nazi Party, the Army concluded that Japan needed to have one-party rule and to establish a national mobilization system.
The Shakai Taishuto (Socialist Masses Party) first disbanded and joined a drive for establishing a new system; then parties including the Rikken Seiyukai (Constitutional Party of Political Friends) and the Rikken Minseito (Constitutional Democratic Party) disbanded one after another. It was in October 1940 when the Taisei Yokusan-kai (Imperial Rule Assistance Association) was inaugurated with Prime Minister Konoe as president.
Foreign Ministry bureaucrats also advocated “Imperial Way diplomacy,” emphasizing direct actions to achieve total national reform and military success over the Soviet Union. Toshio Shiratori, a reformist leader who served as Ambassador to Italy, stressed in late 1939, before Germany’s relatively easy advances began, that “Japan, Germany, Italy and the Soviet Union, which are discontented with the international system under the Treaty of Versailles, should immediately join hands and stand together, on an equal footing with those countries who are in favor of the status quo.”
Shiratori was particularly supported by young bureaucrats who joined the Foreign Ministry after the Manchurian Incident. A group of these young diplomats, including Nobuhiko Ushiba (who served as ambassador to the United States in the postwar period), all signed a covenant, appealing for the appointment of Shiratori as Foreign Minister.
The Japanese people also welcomed the reappearance of Konoe. Newspapers, in an apparent bid “not to miss the bus,” supported the drive for a new system and called for the conclusion of the Tripartite Pact. The Yomiuri Shimbun, for instance, said to the Konoe Cabinet, “It is useless for the Cabinet to adopt conventional, semi-liberal, halfway ideas and methods.” The Asahi Shimbun, on the day the Tripartite Pact was signed, wrote that “Now the ‘oath of history’ has been made with sake cups circled and banzai cheers raging.”
Yonai, whose Cabinet was forced to resign en masse, wrote back to a friend: “Devilish history has let thousands of mirages emerge within people’s brain..., having politicians of the times dance in disgrace.” The politicians he was referring to were people such as Konoe and Matsuoka.